Diet is the single biggest contributor to the burden of disease – think cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity etc. Therefore, the choices you make about what you eat is one of the most important choices you’ll ever make for yourself or your family. As a society we are generally eating too much processed and packaged food, sugar and fat that are energy dense, nutrient poor and are not health-promoting.

There’s a lot of complexity in the nutrition industry these days and people are more confused than ever about what makes a healthy diet. However, it’s really pretty simple if you follow some basic rules, rather than try to follow any particular diet. Evidence shows that a health-promoting diet generally consists of the following:

  • Lots of vegetables
  • Minimal processed & packaged foods
  • SLOW – seasonal, local, organic, whole foods
  • Good variety
  • Sufficient omega-3 rich foods
  • Low in trans-fats
  • Low in fried and grilled foods
  • Moderate intake of nuts
  • Moderate fruit intake
  • Prepared fresh daily
  • Enjoyed with other people

We are all individually different so no one diet suits everyone which is why dietary guidelines are just that, a guide. What is really important to remember is that you eat a diet that is health-promoting for you. The above principles apply if you’re vegetarian, paleo, vegan, gluten free, fructose free…..However, remember that the more foods or food groups you omit from your diet, the more conscious you need to be about ensuring your diet provides all the essential nutrients. This is particularly true for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children and those who are ill.

Evidence suggests that many people aren’t getting the recommended daily intake for many nutrients due to poor dietary choices. Read our blog about magnesium as just one example.

Unfortunately, diet is only part of the picture when we’re talking about a person’s nutritional status. The absorption of nutrients into the body and the metabolism of nutrients once in the blood stream also affect a person’s nutritional status. Absorption can be significantly impacted by gastrointestinal (GI) imbalances that damage the lining of the GI tract. A study in 2012 indicated that about 19 – 22% of the population in the USA suffer from GI disease annually. This suggests that a significant percentage of the population may not be effectively absorbing the nutrients in the food they eat. The proper utilisation of nutrients by cells in the body can also be affected by many factors, including heavy metals, drugs, stress and chronic disease.

Therefore, the combination of poor diet along with evidence for poor nutrient absorption and metabolism in the population is the basis for our belief that nutrient deficiencies are relatively common. This evidence, along with the growing clinical and laboratory evidence of their effectiveness, is why supplementation has become a valuable tool for naturopathic nutritionists today. However, the mainstay of our approach will always be to address the diet first.

Learn how your lifestyle and environment can also affect your health.

 

Poor nutrition trumps tobacco, alcohol, and sedentary lifestyles as the primary cause for the development of chronic illnesses.” – Baxter Montgomery, MD

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